You know that thing about knowing somebody who knows somebody who knows somebody?
That's kind of how I feel about Rita Williams-Garcia. I've never met this writer, nor have I heard her speak, except on the occasional YouTube someone shares. But I know a few people who know her and probably know a lot of people who have heard her talk about how to write. I suspect she's brilliant.
I want some of her Writing Fairy Dust to spill my way.
And while I try very hard not to envy anybody's fabulous talent, Rita Williams-Garcia's books about those Gaither girls are truly enviable.
Three things I love about this new book, P.S. Be Eleven.
1. You get a sense of history without being banged over the head with it. The girls are funny in a way that a lot of kids will truly get. They constantly bicker. They laugh and swoon over the Jackson Five. Standing in Mr. Mack's Candy Store, they remember Power to the People from their One Crazy Summer in Oakland with their poet mother. But Fern chimes in- in a way that younger sisters even today might - with "Free candy," instead of Free Huey.
Their Vietnam veteran uncle's serious story is interwoven with the girls' worry about seeing Michael Jackson. Beautifully and seamlessly told, this subplot is an important, yet kid-friendly discussion.
2. Those authentic character voices. Wow.
I love all three sisters. I love Big Ma, their grandmother.
But Delphine is wise way beyond her 12 years.
Here's her take on the 6th Grade Dance:
For me, the sixth-grade dance meant trying to match steps with boys I'd slugged...For me, and me alone, it meant waiting to be asked to dance when no one would ask because they'd have to look way up at me...
I surely didn't want to be the girl no one asked to dance. I didn't want to be the girl who swayed by the punch bowl and cookie table, pretending to enjoy watching everyone else dance. I didn't want to be Miss Merriam Webster's definition of a sixth-grade wallflower.
Oh, how I remember those days!
3. The sensory details and descriptions inspire author-envy, I'll admit.
Like the teacher's letter. "The smell of purple ink swirled up my nose when I unfolded the bright white paper."
Yes, I know. That mimeograph machine smell!
And Big Ma dressed for church, "with a pinned-on hat, a shiny black purse, and black gloves that crawled past her wrists."
I've been thinking a lot about Historical Fiction lately. I love reading books with terrific and true tiny details.
I'm excited about my upcoming whole novel HIGHLIGHTS FOUNDERS WORKSHOP on Historical Fiction.
(There may be a couple of places left. Click that link up there for details.)
I could go on and on.
But I'll let you see for yourself. And feel free to let me know your thoughts.
For my thoughts on the first book about these fabulous characters and my review on Joyce Moyer Hostetter's history blog, CLICK RIGHT HERE, please.